There comes a time in every Magic player’s life when Friday Night Magic just isn’t enough. You’re regularly going undefeated or X-1 and are frequently beating new players to no real point for either of you. Your brain and your competitive deck just aren’t getting a workout.
It’s time to join the world of competitive Magic, in the form of one of the following events:
- Preliminary Pro Tour Qualifiers
- Magic Grand Prix
- Star City Games Invitational Qualifiers & Regionals
- TCGPlayer Bronze, Silver and Gold Events
- SCG & TCG State Championships
These events are quite a bit different than FNMs in a number of different ways.
- Rules are enforced much more strictly
Don’t expect to get to take back any actions at a competitive event. Also, any slip-ups regarding rules can result in a judge being called over and you being issued a warning or game loss. It helps to be a good winner and a good loser, too, as you can get dinged for unsportsmanlike conduct.
- Deck registration and decks matching the list are important
You have to register your constructed deck ahead of time, meaning you must bring a typed, printed deck list or hand-write one well in advance of the first round starting. You’ll often see players furiously writing down their decks with minutes to spare. Plan further ahead, because if you’re one of those players, you can often make a deck registration error, which leads to a match loss penalty. Similarly, forgetting to restore your sideboard to normal between matches can also lead to the deck and list not matching and a similar penalty. (If you catch a sideboard error before your opponent does, the penalty can sometimes be lesser.)
In a sealed event, you will have to register your entire pool of cards on a checklist, then register the cards you use in your deck. More competitive sealed events require you to temporarily swap pools with another player to verify, then swap back to play.
- You have to pre-register
It’s important not to show up and expect to play on the day of the event. Many competitive events have abolished on-site registration the day of, so it’s important to find the pre-registration link on the event page, or call the tournament organizer if you can’t find it, and register online or over the phone. You may or may not have to check in when you get to the event, even if you pre-register; check with the event to be sure.
- The event can be multiple days
The bigger competitive events take place over two or more days of competition. If you’re traveling to the event, it’s important to have lodging worked out ahead of time in case you do well enough to make Day 2. Also, each day of play can be very long, so be sure and eat well, hydrate, and take care of any headaches that may occur after staring at cards for eight or more hours!
- There’s a lot of new lingo
You might hear some unfamiliar tournament terms and phrases being thrown around. A Player Meeting is when players are assigned seats to hear the rules and regulations for the event and meet their judges. Byes are earned through qualifying events or having enough Planeswalker Points depending on the event; these count as wins without having to risk playing a match that round. A Sleep-In Special is when a player with one or more byes pays an extra fee to sleep in that morning and show up with a registered deck after the byes are over. And a Feature Match is when you might find yourself on camera if you win enough that day or happen to be paired against a notable player. Be sure and tell your friends and family where they can watch you should a feature match occur!
Overall, competitive events may seem more stressful than a typical local event, and you may lose a bunch your first few times out. But these types of events really satisfy the competitive nature of Spikes among us and have some awesome prizes if you make it that far. Besides … if you want to be the best, you have to beat the best!
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